Sunday, February 22, 2009

the face of liberty

They that can give up essential liberty
to obtain a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty or safety.
Benjamin Franklin

My family spent a few days in Philadelphia this past week. The town where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and James Madison wrote the U.S. Constitution knows a few things about liberty, which Webster’s defines as “the quality or state of being free.”

The U.S. Mint, situated on the north end of Independence Mall, engraves the word LIBERTY on every coin they produce. And of course, there is the Liberty Bell.

The first thing that struck me about the Liberty Bell was its imperfections. The surface area is anything but smooth, and is marked instead by dents, welts, swells, patches and bumps. The rim, which one would expect to be sharp and circular, is rough and chiseled. This clarion of freedom… which assembled the masses in 1776, harked the end of slavery in the late 1800s and echoed the voices of the suffragettes in the 20th Century… appears flawed, damaged and defective. And did I mention that crack?

Yet this cast of copper and zinc is treasured. Patriots hid it under church floors during the Revolutionary War to protect it from the British army. It has traveled from coast to coast. A million people come each year to stand in its presence. To read the verse from Leviticus inscribed on its crown: proclaim LIBERTY throughout the land unto all Inhabitants thereof.

When you get up close you see that liberty doesn’t look pretty. It appears flawed. Chiseled. Cracked. And yet it is perfect in every way imaginable.

In this, the city of brotherly love, I also thought about words Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Reflecting about what I expect from my relationship with Christ, it dawned on me that when I finally go all in with Jesus… when I choose to live the life he intended for me… it is probably not going to look pretty to the outside world. When I finally allow Jesus to set me free it is likely that others will see me as flawed. Chiseled. Cracked.

For some reason I can’t explain, that thought comforts me.


Anonymous said...

wonderful thoughts

Anonymous said...

Ditto, Nancy. Great post!

Kansas Bob said...

I love that quote Ed.. gotta wonder in awe about the wisdom of the founders.

I remember seeing the bell on a field trip in junior high.. great that you brought you family.. everyone should see it Ed.

Ed G. said...

Thank you nancy & lex.

Bob, it was a time in our country when those who were wise chose to serve others and not themselves. Franklin, for example, never patented any of his inventions - he put public good over personal wealth. It is an underappreciated blessing that my wife and i have the time and resources to expose our kids to stuff like this - i agree, everyone should see it.